Eiffel 101: Steel Plate Safety Tips
Steel road plates are wide, flat plates commonly used to cover potholes, excavations, trenches, damaged pedestrian walkways, and roads under construction in order that traffic may continue to pass while a project is underway. They are also used over trench boxes during excavation for utility construction and repair. Due to their square edges, steel plates can create uneven surfaces where the road merges with the plate, which can be hazardous to motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians. Furthermore, because of their smooth surfaces, plates can become slippery when wet. In order to improve user safety, certain steps should be taken when installing and using steel road plates.
1. Properly Attach Steel Plates to the Road Surface
In order to prevent steel plates from sliding and exposing hazards underneath, they should be affixed to the road surface. To do this, pins can be driven into the pavement along the edges of the steel plate. Another option is to recess the plate into the pavement, or to secure the plate with asphalt edges around the plate’s perimeter. Recessing means cutting out the area where the steel plate will be placed and inserting the plate into the recess so that it’s flush with the surface of the road. If multiple plates are used in conjunction, they should be welded together along their seams to prevent additional movement.
2. Install Proper Skid Resistance on Road Plates
Steel plates are wide, smooth and flat, meaning they can become slippery, especially when wet. To combat this, anti-skid coatings should be applied when necessary.
3. Install Tapered Ramps Around Road Plates
Tapered ramps are usually made of asphalt and can be installed around a road plate to reduce the size of the lip between the plate and the road. This allow users to safely cross the steel plates. Tapers must be gradual—if they are too steep, they can create a new hazard to motorcyclists and bicyclists who are at risk of losing control when they encounter the abrupt incline. Generally, tapers should extend five feet horizontally for every one inch of vertical elevation difference.
4. Follow Proper Protocols when Using Steel Road Plates
In addition to the above tips, choosing the right steel plates for a project and following proper steel plate protocols can improve user safety.
Select the correct steel road plate size for the project.
Ensure there is adequate overlap between the edge of the excavation and the steel plate; usually, a plate will extend at least one foot beyond the opening in the ground.
Secure edges properly with feathered asphalt.
Countersink plates when roadways are uneven.
Paint or mark the edge of the road plates to improve visibility.
Use proper advance warning signs to help traffic anticipate the road plates.
Reevaluate conditions throughout the day to ensure safety.
Notify proper authorities of plate locations in the winter.
Inspect the job site at the end of each day to ensure overnight safety.
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